Special Collections of the ODU Libraries

Joseph D. Wood Papers, 1920-1951 | Special Collections and University Archives

By James F. Walsh

Collection Overview

Title: Joseph D. Wood Papers, 1920-1951

ID: 00/MG 3

Primary Creator: Wood, Joseph Downing (1867-1959)

Extent: 7.51 Linear Feet. More info below.

Arrangement: The papers, dating from 1920 to 1951, are divided into five sub-groups: personal, public service (non-political), business, mayoral files, and City of Norfolk data. Where possible Captain Wood's own filing system was followed.

Date Acquired: 03/01/1976

Subjects: Businessmen--Virginia--Norfolk, City council members--Virginia--Norfolk, Mayors--Virginia--Norfolk, Norfolk (Va.)--History--20th century, Norfolk (Va.)--Politics and government--20th century, Virginia--Politics and Goverment--1865-1950, Wood, Joseph Downing, 1867-1959

Languages: English

Abstract

President of the Wood Towing Company (Tugboats). Served on the Norfolk City Council (1926-1930, 1934-1944) and as Mayor (1940-1944) during World War II. Collection contains business papers, mayoral files, correspondence and the papers of his service on the Elizabeth River Tunnel Commission.

Scope and Contents of the Materials

Captain Wood was president of Wood Towing Corporation (Tugboats), a member of the Norfolk City Council (1926-1930, 1934-1944), and mayor of Norfolk (1940-1944). He also served on a number of public boards, most notably the Elizabeth River Tunnel Commission. His papers, dating from 1920 to 1951, are divided into five sub-groups: personal, public service (non-political), business, mayoral files, and City of Norfolk data. The personal papers contain some family genealogy, correspondence, his autobiography, and a variety of financial records. The public service papers deal mainly with his service on the Elizabeth River Tunnel Commission. The business papers consist of correspondence, tug repair estimates and labor relations files. The bulk of the mayoral files are correspondence, while the City of Norfolk material focuses on financial data and is not duplicated by material found at Norfolk City Hall. Where possible Captain Wood's own filing system was followed.

Collection Historical Note

Joseph Downing Wood was born on February 22, 1867, on a farm in Washington Co., North Carolina. He was the first of nine children born to Samuel and Pattie Downing Wood. He left the family farm in 1886 to seek his fortune in Norfolk, Virginia. Here he found work as an apprentice seaman, largely on coastal ships. By the age of 21, he was a licensed seaman and at 23, a master seaman on a tugboat. By 1900 Wood had risen to the position of Yard Pilot for the Norfolk Navy Yard in Portsmouth. During World I he was commissioned as a Lt. Commander in the Navy Reserve and served as director of tugs and all floating equipment in the Fifth Naval District.

After the war Wood founded his towing company, beginning with one tug and one barge, neither of which was paid for. By the time he sold his Wood Towing Corporation for $1,500,000 in 1951, the company controlled a whole fleet of tugs. Wood had sold his business rather than agree to the demands of his employees for unionization.

Wood was almost 60 when he first entered the political arena and was elected to the Norfolk City Council in 1926. He was reelected to the council in 1934, 1938, and 1942. He became ex-officio mayor of Norfolk when he was elected president of the council in September, 1940. Wood served as mayor, until his retirement from politics in 1944, during an extremely busy period for a defense oriented city like Norfolk. Economy was Wood's watchword as a politician. Being a staunch conservative, he firmly believed in the "pay as you go" philosophy, which dominated Virginia politics during the period in which he was active.

Joseph Downing Wood married Ada Estelle Burnell on June 2, 1896. They had one child, Margaret (Mrs. Burton DeBerry Melchor). Wood died on April 16, 1959.

Subject/Index Terms

Businessmen--Virginia--Norfolk
City council members--Virginia--Norfolk
Mayors--Virginia--Norfolk
Norfolk (Va.)--History--20th century
Norfolk (Va.)--Politics and government--20th century
Virginia--Politics and Goverment--1865-1950
Wood, Joseph Downing, 1867-1959

Administrative Information

Repository: Special Collections and University Archives

Alternate Extent Statement: 18 Hollinger document cases

Access Restrictions: Open to researchers without restrictions.

Use Restrictions: Before publishing quotations or excerpts from any materials, permission must be obtained from Special Collections and University Archives, and the holder of the copyright, if not Old Dominion University Libraries.

Acquisition Source: Burton deBerry Melchor III, in honor of his mother Margaret Wood, daughter of Captain Wood

Acquisition Method: Gift. Accession #A76-9

Preferred Citation: [Identification of item], Box [insert number], Folder [insert number and title], Joseph D. Wood Papers, Special Collections and University Archives, Patricia W. and J. Douglas Perry Library, Old Dominion University Libraries, Norfolk, VA 23529.


Box and Folder Listing


Browse by Series:

[Series I: Personal Papers],
[Series II: Public Service],
[Series III: Business Papers],
[Series IV: Mayoral Files],
[Series V: City of Norfolk Material],
[Series VI: Political],
[All]

Series III: Business Papers
Box 10
Folder 1: Army Base Surroundings, 1943
Folder 2: Blocking Measurments on Wood Towing Co. Equipment
Folder 3: Business Publications and Memoranda
Folder 4: Coast Guard Distress Regulations and Area Map, 1933
Folder 5: Copper Recovery Corporation (War Production Board), 1942-1943
Folder 6: Correspondence, General, 1923-1946
Folder 7: Correspondence, Shipyard Wage Rates, January 1944
Folder 8: Crandell Dry Dock Engineers, 1941
Folder 9: Fairbanks, Morse & Co. Proposal, 1941
Folder 10: Hampton Roads Maritime Exchange, 1933-1935
Folder 11: Harbor at Assateague, 1922-1924
Folder 12: Opinions, Laws, Legal Briefs re: Towing Rules, Boats, Labor, 1927, 1932, 1946
Folder 13: Repair Estimate: M.S. Brilliant, 1931
Box 11
Folder 1: Speeches (Business Related)
Folder 2: Standard Transportation Co. vs. Wood Towing Corp: Briefs Filed in U.S. District Court of Appeals, 1933
Folder 3: Steamboat Inspection Laws: Correspondence; Rules Book, 1922-1925
Folder 4: Steel Tug Specifications (85 Foot), 1943
Folder 5: "Women's Contributions in the Field of Invention"-U.S. Dept. of Labor, 1923

Browse by Series:

[Series I: Personal Papers],
[Series II: Public Service],
[Series III: Business Papers],
[Series IV: Mayoral Files],
[Series V: City of Norfolk Material],
[Series VI: Political],
[All]

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